Recently, the top echelons of the Indian judiciary have issued several verdicts that can really help the citizens of this country understand both the right to Free Expression as well as the reasonable limits placed on it.
Here is another such landmark judgement, from the Kerala High Court today.
As reported here by LiveLaw.in, the Honorable Kerala High Court has set aside the conviction of a woman under Section 125 of the Indian Penal Code. This Section of the IPC deals with waging war against an Asiatic power that is in alliance with the Govt of India and has provision for life imprisonment.
The woman in question is one Yasmeen Mohammad Zahid, who was arrested from Delhi Airport on Aug 1, 2016, while apparently trying to flee to Afghanistan with the aim of joining ISIS.
Earlier the NIA Special Court in Ernakulam had found her guilty of supporting and raising funds for ISIS and accordingly, convicted her under Sections 120B, 125 IPC and Sections 38,39 and 40 of UAPA.
In particular, the Honorable Court observed that:
“Supporting an ideology of a banned organization, of course, is different from waging a war or attempting to wage a war or abetting to wage a war.“
I am convinced that this judgement and the precedent set by it will act as a guiding light for citizens, media and the legal fraternity trying to understand the limits of freedom of expression in India.
Another recent decision of the Honorable Kerala High Court may also help in this regard:
So far over 3500 people have been arrested by Kerala Police over protests at Sabarimala, some 540 cases registered and around 100 are still in judicial custody.
As reported by the Hindustan Times:
I am grateful to the Honorable Kerala High Court for taking a firm stand against the protests at Sabarimala. Now that the courts have prevented “wrong signals” from being sent, I do hope that the general public gets the message.
Of course, no article on clarifying the status of Freedom of Expression in India would be complete without referring to the views expressed by the Supreme Court after the arrest of five “activists”.
I am not a lawyer nor a judge, much less a legal scholar.
I am nobody to comment on these judgments and views expressed by the courts. Even if I wanted to comment, I would not have the required expertise. Most likely because I do not happen to be an “eminent citizen” of India.
I just thought I would prepare a brief compilation of recent views of the honourable Indian judiciary which may or may not have an impact of how we the people understand Freedom of Expression.
Freedom of Expression is a complicated matter. Hopefully, people who read this article will get it now.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.